Stretches and Exercises for Neck and Back Pain

Movement is medicine! That’s because the human body was designed to move.
Chiropractor-recommended stretches and exercises can often be the easiest way to reduce pain, prevent future injury, and keep you moving.

Why is Stretching so Important?

Whether you’re experiencing pain or are getting ready to take on the day, there are several reasons why stretching is important. For one, stretching is an essential component of joint health. When muscles surrounding the joints are tight or tense, this can drastically reduce mobility in the joint. Stretching regularly can lengthen muscles, freeing up the joints and allowing you to move with less difficulty.

Stretching also improves circulation, allowing blood to flow more freely throughout the body. Likewise, routine stretching also helps reduce stress and naturally improve energy. Other benefits of chiropractic adjustments and stretching include:

  • Relieve post-exercise soreness and pain
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Help prevent future injuries
  • Treat existing injuries
  • Help improve posture

Is Stretching Safe to Do at Home?

Yes, follow stretches approved by your chiropractor. At Olatunji Chiropractic, Dr. Olatunji will recommend stretches his patients can follow to improve their progress. If you are recovering from an injury, follow only the stretches Dr. Olatunji has recommended to avoid possible further injury. If you experience any pain, stop stretching and consult your chiropractor during your next appointment.

Exercises and Stretches for Neck Pain & Mid-Back Pain

The top seven bones of the vertebrae are called the cervical spine, aka the neck. The role of the neck is to support the heavy weight of the head. Anything from sleeping wrong to tech neck can cause pain in the cervical spine. Thoracic spine is made up of twelve vertebrae in the mid-back. Hunching over a desk all day, attempting to lift something heavy, or even sleeping incorrectly can spur middle back pain. Here are some stretches for both neck and middle back pain that Dr. Olatunji recommends.

Instructions for stretches: Hold stretch 60-90 seconds, rest equal time. Do 2-3 sets.

Instructions for poses: Hold poses for 5-20 seconds, rest double the time the pose is held.

Puppy Pose Stretch

Drop your forehead to the floor or to a blanket and let your neck relax. Keep a slight curve in your lower back. To feel a nice long stretch in your spine, press the hands down and stretch through the arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels.

Doorway Pectoral Stretch

Stand in an open doorway. Raise each arm up to the side, bent at 90-degree angles with palms forward. Rest your palms on the door frame. Slowly step forward with one foot. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest. Stand upright and don’t lean forward. Hold for 30 seconds. Step back and relax. Repeat 3 times, or as instructed.

Thoracic Rotation Stretch

Start by lying on your side, with your knees bent past your hips and hands together straight in front of you. Put a pillow under your head if needed. Keeping your lower back stable, rotate your top arm up and back as far as you can comfortably go. You should feel a stretch in your shoulders and chest. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.

Foam Roll Thoracic Spine

Position your hips at 45 degrees and knees at 90 degrees with symmetry side to side. Position the foam roller on the mid to upper back. Maintain full spinal alignment including neutral neck position with activation throughout. Gently support your neck with your hands.

Once you have set your starting position, elevate your glutes off the floor slightly. Start moving in an up to down position on the roller, only a few inches at most. Target each area for 30-60 seconds.

Neck Stretch

Roll a towel. Place at the base of your head. Allow your head to fall back toward the floor and relax. Stay in this position 5-10 minutes, unless you feel pain.

Cat/Cow Pose

Begin on your hands and knees with your spine in neutral position. As you inhale and move into cow pose, lift your tailbone upward, press your chest forward and allow your belly to sink. Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and gaze straight ahead. As you exhale, come into cat pose while rounding your spine outward, tucking in your tailbone, and drawing your pubic bone forward. Release your head toward the floor – just don’t force your chin to your chest. Most importantly, just relax.

Bird Dog Pose

Raise your right arm and left leg, keeping your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor. Lengthen the back of your neck and tuck your chin into your chest to gaze down at the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position and alternate arm/leg.

Face Pull

Grasp the handle in an overhand grip (palms facing the floor) and hold it with your arms fully extended out in front of you. Pull the handles towards you, keeping your upper arms parallel to the floor, so that the handles go either side of your face.

Rows with Resistance Band

Sit on the floor and place the resistance band around your feet or bar. Bend your knees slightly and hold the handles by your knees. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and draw your arms back until the band meets your upper ribs. Keep abs engaged. Return to starting position and repeat.

Exercises and Stretches for Low Back Pain & Hip Pain

The low back, also known as the lumbar spine, is made up of five vertebrae. Of all sections of the spine, the low back takes most of the day’s stress. Low back pain can be the result of poor posture, lifting heavy objects, disc issues, or poor core control and stability. The following stretches for lower back and hip pain can help alleviate discomfort and improve muscle strength.

Instructions for stretches: Hold stretch 60-90 seconds, rest equal time. Do 2-3 sets.

Instructions for poses: Hold poses for 5-20 seconds, rest double the time the pose is held.

Child’s Pose Stretch

Drop your forehead to the floor or to a blanket and let your neck relax. Keep a slight curve in your lower back. To feel a nice long stretch in your spine, press the hands down and stretch through the arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels.

Knee to Chest Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Bring one knee into your hands and gently let your arms pull your knee toward your chest. Hold, then lower your bent leg. Relax, then repeat with the other leg.

Low Back Rotation Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Drop both knees to one side. Turn your head to the other side. Keep your shoulders flat on the floor. Hold for 20 seconds. Slowly switch sides. Repeat 2 to 5 times.

Seated Piriformis Stretch

Sit at the edge of the chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your right ankle on your left thigh close to the knee. Flex the right foot (bringing your toes towards your shin). While keeping your spine straight, bend your chest forward. Hold for about 30 seconds. Repeat with your other leg.

Hamstring Stretch

Lie flat on the floor with legs fully stretched out. To stretch the right leg, hold the back of the right knee with both hands, pull the leg up toward the chest, and slowly straighten the knee until it feels as though it is stretching. Hold the stretch for 10–30 seconds.

Psoas Stretch

In lunge position with the back knee resting gently on the floor, keep your chest upright. Gently move forward with your back straight. You should feel a stretch across the front of the forward hip.

Cat/Cow Pose

Begin on your hands and knees with your spine in a neutral position. As you inhale and move into cow pose, lift your tailbone upward, press your chest forward and allow your belly to sink. Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and gaze straight ahead. As you exhale, come into cat pose while rounding your spine outward, tucking in your tailbone, and drawing your pubic bone forward. Release your head toward the floor – just don’t force your chin to your chest. Most importantly, just relax.

Bird Dog Pose

Raise your right arm and left leg, keeping your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor. Lengthen the back of your neck and tuck your chin into your chest to gaze down at the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position and alternate arm/leg.

Glute Bridges

Lie face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze those glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise. Hold the bridge for a couple of seconds before easing down.

Planks

Lay on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders, hands flat on the floor and core engaged. Keeping your forearms on the floor slowly raise yourself upwards until your body is in a straight line from your feet to your head. Keep your abs tight and keep a neutral spine position.

Mini Band Lateral Walk

Place the band just above each ankle and around both legs. Position your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position. Keep your feet in line with your shoulders and face forward with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet. Maintaining the half-squat position, shift your weight over one leg and take a step sideways with the other leg for 8 to 10 steps.

If you have any questions about which stretches or exercises are right for you, please email our Arlington Heights chiropractic office at staff@drochiro.net. Dr. Olatunji considers each patient’s medical history, current medical conditions, and any present pain to recommend safe and effective stretches that will help you heal and keep you feeling your best. Contact us today to get started.

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olatunji chiropractic

Dr. Tunde Olatunji, DC, CCEP
3295 N. Arlington Heights Rd. Suite 112 Arlington Heights, IL
Phone: 224-607-3333
Fax: 224-607-3400
Email: staff@drochiro.net
Chiropractor Arlington Heights IL

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